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Match Recap: Suwon Samsung Bluewings 2-2 Daejeon Hana Citizen, K League 1

Suwon Bluewings threw away a two-goal lead on Sunday afternoon in their bid to avoid a first-ever relegation from K League 1. Yeom Ki-hun's side was cruising to a valuable three points when Daejeon Hana Citizen struck late at a shell-shocked Big Bird.


Suwon Samsung Bluewings 2-2 Daejeon Hana Citizen

Life as a Bluewings fan! 24 hours after Jeju United handed Suwon an unlikely lifeline with a 95th-minute equalizer in Gangwon, the Bluewings immediately handed the initiative back to Gangwon FC with their own 95th-minute concession. Big Bird was bouncing at the break with the home side 2-0 up knowing three points would lift them above Gangwon into 11th and relative safety.

The lively Kim Ju-chan opened the scoring for the hosts, after good build-up play from Kazuki. The Japanese midfielder was influential early on but like many of his teammates, his influence waned considerably after the break. Acosty made it two when he headed home Kim Tae-hwan's long throw-in.

Suwon looked to be cruising to three points until Tiago completely turned the game on its head. Firstly, the Brazilian was on the end of a great team move down the right flank with 10 minutes to play. Then, in the 5th minute of added-on time, Tiago flicked a cross into the path of the onrushing Masa. The Japanese completed the comeback to break Suwon's hearts.

The teams

Suwon Bluewings manager Yeom Ki-hun made 4 changes from the team beaten in Jeju last weekend. An Byung-jun returned to lead the line, with Fejsal Mulic dropped from their match-day squad entirely. Maxwell Acosty joined An and Kim Ju-chan in a front three for the home side. At the back, Dave Balthuis' injury handed a start to Kim Ju-won with Kim Tae-hwan shifting from right back to left back to accommodate Son Ho-jun. Rodrigo Bassani took his place on the bench.

Lee Min-sung brought his Daejeon team to Suwon featuring eight changes from the one which drew with Suwon FC last week. Only Lee Cheung-geun, Jo Yoo-min, and Im Deok-geun kept their places as Daejeon looked to manage their resources at the end of a long season without the fear of relegation.

First half 

Under a fabulous blue sky with temperatures hovering just above 21 degrees, Suwon Bluewings lined up in their traditional all-blue kit playing from left to right. Daejeon Hana Citizen wore all white and immediately looked to dominate possession, finding a home side happy to play without the ball.

The Bluewings broke the deadlock on 20 minutes. Kazuki, becoming increasingly prominent, collected the ball 25 yards out from goal, opened his body, and played in the unmarked Kim Ju-chan at the edge of the box. The pace on the ball was perfect, allowing Kim to side-foot it first time into the bottom left-hand corner. 

Kim's goal, his fourth of the season, helped relieve some of the pressure circulating around Big Bird. The home side knew a win would take them out of the automatic relegation spots. For Daejeon, right-back Oh Jae-seok won't want to see the review as he appears to be in dreamland completely missing his man on the edge of the box.

Daejeon manager Lee Min-sung responded to the goal by making a double substitution, on came Kim In-gyun and Masa for Lee Dong-won and Lee Sun-woo.

Within three minutes, Suwon doubled their lead. Kim Tae-hwan's long throw from the left touchline went over An Byung-jun's head but was met by Daejeon's Jo Yoo-min. Jo inadvertently flicked it straight into the path of Acosty who placed it perfectly away from Lee Chang-geun's despairing dive.

Perhaps assisted by Gangwon's 95th-minute concession to Jeju the previous day, Suwon wasn't playing like a team threatened by a first-ever relegation. This was their best 45 minutes in a long time, restricting Daejeon to half chances from corners or free kicks. Anton and Tiago were the primary dangermen for the visitors but the Suwon rearguard handled their threat with relative ease.

The first-half stats showed Daejeon with 63% of the ball and the first 45 minutes ended with the away team deep in Suwon territory unable to create a really clear-cut opportunity.

Second half

Both teams made changes at the break. Ko Seung-beom replaced Kim Bo-gyeong, who picked up a knock midway through the first half. Daejeon swapped Lee Jin-Hyeong for Leandro as they went in search of some second-half inspiration.

The second half started the way the opening period ended. Daejeon controlled most of the ball but the best chance fell to the home side. Striker An Byeong-jun, especially, will feel he could, and probably should, have connected with a cross as he stood unmarked in the center of the box. 

Leandro had the best chances for Daejeon as Suwon gradually began to sit even deeper and preserve their two-goal lead. On one occasion, his shot drinkled under goalkeeper Yang Hyeong-mo but Kim Tae-hwan was alert to the danger and cleared the ball before it crossed the line. Then, on 70 minutes, the Brazilian fresh-aired when free inside the box. It was that sort of opening 70 for Daejeon.

With 15 minutes to play, Bassani, a second-half replacement for Acosty, went close to ending the contest. Collecting An Byung-jun's flick on, Bassani was completely unmarked entering the Daejeon box. Suwon's Brazilian attempted a deft chip over Lee Chang-geun but the ball dropped just right of the post and out for a goalkick. 

Bassani collapsed to his knees in anguish, as did many of the Suwon players. That miss would soon go on to severely hurt the Bluewings. A brilliant move down the right side featuring Kang Yoon-sung and Ki In-gyun led to the prolific Tiago sweeping home his 17th goal of the season. It was a moment of rare quality for Daejeon on the day but one which brought renewed hope of an unlikely comeback.

As Daejeon basically owned the ball in Suwon territory, all eyes were on the 4th official and much to the shock and horror of the home fans, he announced a minimum of seven minutes added on time. By now, there wasn't a Bluewing even close to the Daejeon half of the field. 

The tying goal, when it arrived, felt completely inevitable. And yet it was a brilliant piece of football all round from Daejeon. A hopeful ball was lumped towards Tiago, who did remarkably well to head-on under pressure to the advancing Masa. Big Bird was stunned into silence, except for the small corner of away fans on the south end.

It felt like the most Suwon of finishes. Yeom's team has 2 weeks to overcome another devastating collapse in the hope of retrieving their season and K League 1 status against Suwon FC.

The fans

11,658 were in attendance for what could be the biggest game of Suwon's season to date. The vast majority will have gone home devastated, wondering how on earth their team allowed a two-goal lead to slip away in the dying minutes.

For Daejeon, and their noisy support behind the goals where all 4 goals were scored, they can enjoy their last 3 games knowing safety has long been secured. They might even take some added delight in severely damaging Suwon's survival bid.

Up next

The Bluewings make the short trip to Suwon Stadium, their former home, after a two-week break for the FA Cup Final. The meeting with Suwon FC comes before another potentially harrowing away game, this time to FC Seoul, on November 25th. Suwon's regular season ends in December when they host Gangwon FC at Big Bird. All eyes will be on the World Cup Stadium that afternoon.

Secured of K League 1 status for at least another season, Daejeon will round out their campaign with games against Gangwon (home), Jeju United (away), and FC Seoul (home) on December 2nd. It has been a successful return to the top flight after a long absence, but one which could have ended with a top 6 finish. 

Attendance: 11,658

Best player: Tiago


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